Debbie Hobday-Shipton, Blackpool and The Fylde College
A degree in hotel and catering management backed up by 12 years in industry is just the sort of experience FE colleges die for when recruiting specialist lecturers like Debbie Hobday-Shipton. Debbie made the switch to teaching hospitality and business studies at Blackpool and The Fylde College in 1992. In 2009, after eight years of teaching in teacher training, she became curriculum manager for initial teacher training.
I’ve always been a people person and I’d often get school holiday jobs in the hospitality industry. I got the bug and took professional HCIMA (management) qualifications and a degree at Oxford Polytechnic in hotel and catering management. Then followed 12 years in management and marketing within the industry, before I began teaching. I had a passion for the industry and wanted to pass this on and help others with my knowledge and skills. I started as a trainee student teacher at Blackpool and The Fylde College in 1991. There I gained my Certificate in Education and then got a full-time post at the college teaching hospitality management before moving over to business studies. I taught for about 18 years, including several years teaching in teacher training, during which I developed my teaching practice, got considerable positive student feedback and good results, built up a passion for teaching and then moved into initial teacher training as a curriculum manager in 2009.
I’m curriculum manager for many programmes alongside lecturing duties on the level 5 Diploma in Education and level 3 Award in Education and Training (AET), and taking observations and managing workplace monitoring of students on our level 7 (postgrad) PGCE courses. The syllabus is complex and varied. You can start teaching and study for an AET (a good starting point for a teacher training career) if you want to train on the job while teaching at the same time; it gets you on the ladder by providing the skills and knowledge to effectively plan and deliver a training session for post-16 learners. I also work closely with local employers to ensure we train their staff to train colleagues or apprentices in the workplace in a wide variety of industries and sectors.
To get a full teaching qualification, there are two routes: (1) a level 5 Diploma in Education and Training (DET) for students already classed as in service (eg. those working in, say, engineering, construction or health and social care); or (2) a level 7 PGCE - the usual pre-service route for those who have just got a degree and now want to teach.
So what do we teach? It’s a full package, ranging from how to plan, source and deliver a lesson to understanding and developing sessions that suit the profile of a student group; how to create a positive learning environment; theories of learning; and curriculum design and development. Students also undertake action research, reflect on their practice, develop academic skills; and research wider issues in education and training. As a teacher I can see up to 60 learners in any one week; some are on only 12-week programmes while diploma and PGCE courses last a year.
If I’m teaching, I need to constantly review what and how I teach, ensuring I have all the resources available and I’m fully prepared. Wearing my management hat, I ensure all staff are in place daily to deliver the curriculum as planned. Much of the job is dealing with specific students’ pastoral or academic issues - most staff will spend at least 30-60 minutes a day listening to and supporting their learners, who on one day could be struggling with deadlines and on another might be coping with the unexpected, such as bereavement. I help students focus on positives, help them draw up action plans, and bring in partners across the college when learning or wellbeing support is needed. I have to respond to course enquiries, follow up with information, advise prospective students and talk to employers to work out how we can support their needs. I teach for several hours over two days each week, which runs alongside my main role of managing and developing the curriculum.
I’m helping develop a national education academy that will provide education and training courses largely for teachers and teaching assistants from the post-compulsory sector (eg 14-19, FE, HE, adult education, lifelong learning). We’ve also been creating a degree in education studies (not teacher training) that focuses on understanding education sociologically, psychologically and from a political/government policy perspective. Each year I also spend five days in industry (I recently visited a school to check out provision of training by the local council). I might also look at Sure Start provision, visit an SEN school or look at educational provision in a local prison.
Curriculum design and development and also technology and how it can be used in teaching and learning.
Enabling successful students to realise their career ambitions and transforming someone’s life economically - it’s brilliant! I can walk through our local hospital and bump into so many I’ve either trained or had on one of my courses (I also manage courses for our paramedic and nursing students). In addition, I really enjoy designing and implementing curriculums.
I don’t find I clock watch or think ‘I’ve done seven hours today already’. I have no specific start/finishing time; as a professional, you do the job required. It’s really odd - I can’t explain it - but my passion for the job takes over! If I come in at 8 and go at 6 it doesn’t matter. Our absolute focus is always on our students. If I have to meet a learner at 4 pm to discuss things, I’ll do it regardless of other priorities. I can’t tell you the number of times students have said afterwards: “I feel better for that!” They may be stressing over work or are just not feeling confident. This makes the time spent all worthwhile.
Our popular PGCE teacher training course - it’s one of very few level 7 programmes at the college and offers the ultimate progression route for our students.
It’s the pressure of wanting to do my best in every part of the job and yet having to prioritise my time and focus.
A creative, inquiring mind and a passion for teaching. Enthusiasm, tenacity, flexibility and a ‘can do’ attitude when responding to constant change (eg how would a funding change affect recruitment to a certain course? Or the effect of covid on course delivery - switching from face-to-face to purely online or blended learning?)
A degree in your subject area plus ideally a PGCE or DET. Once you are in a teaching post, do take advantage of all the CPD (continuing professional development) courses your college offers internally and externally - anything from an external conference visit, catch-up and update courses on technology, and ’Taking Teaching Further’ courses (particularly for industry specialists) through to part-time initial teacher training courses (mandatory for recruits without a teaching qualification)..
Always think about “what if” scenarios and prepare contingency plans for the unexpected - it’s absolutely key. Focus on becoming a team player and ensuring you communicate. It’s also important to share resources and definitely to not reinvent any wheels - don’t create unnecessary work for yourself!
What skills and qualities do you have that would make you a good teacher trainer?
It’s knowing what I can do for people through education that enables them to contribute to their community.
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